We’ve had a bit of rain, but most days have been pretty nice, with temperatures more moderately seasonal than the cold snap we had a while back. Light Up Blue Ridge seemed to be a great success again this year. The downtown was full of people by 2:00, and it wasn’t the warmest day in the year by any means.
The traditional mountain festival season is over, and there isn’t a lot of wild excitement in Blue Ridge for the rest of the month. But Daley & Vincent, the award winning bluegrass act, is bringing their “Spirit of Christmas” tour to the High School’s Performing Arts Center at 7:00 PM on December 12. Tickets are $20 general admission, or $25 for the first five rows. The easiest place to get tickets is at the main branch of the United Community Bank.
The November 19 Polk County (TN) News carried an interesting article titled “OWC [Ocoee Whitewater Center] Use Eyed.” The Ocoee Whitewater Center is the facility that was built to host the 1996 Olympic whitewater events. I can’t find the story online, but just as the newspaper eventually lands in my mailbox, the story will probably go online at some point. It recounts a meeting between the Polk Federal Lands Committee and Forest Service Ranger Mike Wright. It’s a somewhat complicated story, but it seems the Forest Service is frustrated with the fact that the Whitewater Center has become, as Ranger Wright put it, “a glorified rest stop.” (That’s an interesting comment, because he also said that it received 300,000 visits last year and that a survey in neighboring Bradley County revealed that what brings tourists to Bradley is recreation in Polk.) Wright said that it is difficult to put on whitewater events there, as the promoter would have to pay the TVA for two weeks of “lost water.” That is, the TVA would charge for releasing enough water for the event. (If you live in Blue Ridge, the idea that that’s “lost water” is ironic, because it’s being “lost” out of our lake, and nobody pays us anything for it. ) It appears that the Forest Service would prefer to lease it to one of the rafting companies, rather than to do anything with it themselves, although they are scheduled to make some upgrades to the facility. The original vision for the center was “to serve as a regional visitor’s center, provide land and water based recreation, provide conservation education, support economic development, and provide public-private partnerships.” (It’s difficult to see how leasing it to a rafting company would achieve these goals, but it would allow the Forest Service personnel to spend more time in the office.) In related news, Wright said that he hadn’t heard anything about reopening the local campgrounds that they recently closed.